Partnership Boosts Scholarships Programs
For decades, Medford Rogue Rotary Foundation (MRRF) and Rotary Foundation of Klamath County (RFKC) have been awarding life-changing scholarships to Southern Oregon students. MRRF has awarded $2.6 million to 441 students since 1983, while RFKC has distributed almost $200,000 to more than 200 students since 2008.
In addition to top academic achievers, the programs support students whose grades may have been impacted by health or family challenges. Roger Stokes of MRRF recalls one such awardee: “His dad was in prison, his mom was on drugs. He was living with friends, but the only space they had was an unheated garden shed. He was so determined to do well and get out of those circumstances that we were compelled to help.”
As their scholarship programs grew, each Rotary foundation chose to partner with OCF in its own way: As an endowment partner, RFKC manages its program while OCF manages investments; in contrast, MRRF shifted its programs and funds to OCF, but Rotarians still select recipients.
“Before 1999, we had our funds invested with a local stockbroker, and one of our original board members administered all the scholarships. He finally said, ‘This is getting to be too much.’ After a number of discussions with OCF, we felt very comfortable with the flexibility a fund would give us and how visible their administration would be.”
Medford Rogue Rotary Foundation
Both approaches have reduced costs while boosting investment returns and scholarship opportunities. “Moving our funds gave us more stability and security,” says Jenine Stuedli, RFKC’s treasurer. “And OCF has a lot of credibility with potential donors.”
The foundations have since added permanently endowed subfunds through fundraisers and from individual donors. “When students receive a scholarship, we introduce them to our members,” Roger explains. “That has stimulated a lot of growth; we’ve had several donations of $100,000 in the last year.”
Jenine adds that working with OCF has mitigated rising tuition costs. “Because we can operate from interest versus principal, our funds have been growing,” she says. “The returns have allowed us to increase our awards. It’s really been a success for our little community.”